Even though I've lived here for almost eight years, I still find myself trying to make it to some of the old Baltimore standards. Angelina's was on my list, especially after Joe H. has raved about them on the board. We finally went there tonight.
I had heard that the waits could be a bit much, so we went fairly late -- about 9:30, which was an hour and a half before closing time. Apparently they get an early crowd, because the place was deserted. One other couple came in a few minutes after we did.
We were both starving when we got there, and were grateful to be given a basket of very good bread almost immediately. No fancy stuff, just fresh baked white bread in thick slices with butter. It was delicious.
Our appetizer was not as successful. I ordered the mussels in garlic butter to start us off. The mussels were small and dry, and not really flavorful. There was also a high percentage of empty shells.
We didn't get around to the recommended crab imperial. Instead we both ordered the 8 oz. crab cake. They were just as Joe has described them -- a baseball sized cake of all lump crab meet. They were very good indeed, although I'd still give the flavor edge to Faidley's, my personal favorite.
The cakes came with your choice of two vegetables. Both were better left behind, and mostly they were. My redskin mashed potatoes had two large square chunks of unmashed potato, and the asparagus was tired and overcooked. In fairness the veggie overcooking is Baltimore style, but it was still a shame.
The service was unreasonably slow, especially in a deserted restaurant, and the food took a long time to come after ordering.
I give the crab cakes very high marks. They're as good as rumor has it, and the best you can get if you insist on sitting down for your meal. But the overall experience was unimpressive.
I was also more disturbed than I might have otherwise been at the poor mussels. I expect a place specializing in seafood to pay close attention to quality, and would have preferred to be directed to another appetizer choice rather than served an inferior dish.
I can see us going back for those crab cakes, that bread and to try the crab imperial, but Angelina's didn't rank highly for just about anything else.